Thursday, August 2, 2012

Ants in Your Air Conditioner

Don't let ants run amok in your air conditioner!
Summer is tough on air conditioners. There can be any number of reasons to be left suddenly sweaty, on hold with your local HVAC repair company. While electrical problems, run down freon, or broken parts are all pretty common problems, one particular cause of air conditioner malfunction that is on the rise in the South is ant invasion.

Don't get stuck sweating in front of the fan.
With warmer winters and hotter summers than usual, many experts predicted there would be more bugs in the warmer months this year than in the past. That's worked out well for exterminators specializing in mosquito control, but one consequence many didn't predict was the mischief that larger ant populations would get into. Not only are ant populations bigger, but fire ants are steadily spreading north, causing a whole host of other problems.

When ants get into your air conditioner, it can stop working for seemingly no reason. It can be hard to detect when something as tiny as an ant gets into an AC unit's electrical components, causing it to short out. It's both a blessing and a curse if the ant problem in your air conditioner is big enough that you can see it. On the one hand, then you know for sure that it's ants gumming up the works, on the other, then you have to deal with a massive swarm.

This air conditioner is surrounded by leaves and mulch
in a shady spot, which might make it more attractive to ants
Ants can be attracted to air conditioning units for a variety of reasons. In the winter, they can be a warm, dry place to nest out of the elements. In the hot, dry summer, the condensation is a valuable water source. If your air conditioner is tucked into the landscaping, nearby dirt, mulch or debris could attract ants with nest building material and a good place to put it. Other dead bugs, sap, berries, or many other things edible and delicious to ants could fall into the AC unit's vents, luring ants inside for a feast. If you suspect ants are shorting out your AC, try to find why it is attractive to them in the first place.

Fortunately, once you've identified the problem is can be fairly simple to fix. There are a variety of methods recommended online, from calling a professional exterminator to opening the machine and cleaning the ants out yourself with compressed air, water and ammonia, or a bug bomb. These instructions from eHow seem the most sensible for a DIY fix, with the least likelyhood of damaging the AC unit. Whatever method you chose, do be careful if you go the DIY route that you don't further damage the malfunctioning AC unit. After clearing out the current ant problem, be sure to remove any ant-attracting brush, dirt, etc. to be sure the problem doesn't return.